Friday, November 28, 2008

Jupiter has a rocky core and much larger than suspected

Jupiter has a rocky core that is more than twice as large as previously thought, according to computer calculations by a University of California, Berkeley, geophysicist who simulated conditions inside the planet. The simulation predict the properties of hydrogen-helium mixtures at the extreme pressures and temperatures that occur in Jupiter's interior. A comparison of this model with the planet's known mass, radius, surface temperature, gravity and equatorial bulge implies that Jupiter's core is an Earth-like rock 14 to 18 times the mass of Earth, or about one-twentieth of Jupiter's total mass -Previous models predicted a much smaller core of only 7 Earth masses, or no core at all.

UC Berkeley's Burkhard Militzer said about their research: "Our simulations show there is a big rocky object in the center surrounded by an ice layer and hardly any ice elsewhere in the planet," "This is a very different result for the interior structure of Jupiter than other recent models, which predict a relatively small or hardly any core and a mixture of ices throughout the atmosphere."

<- more at ScienceDaily ->

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